Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Les dimanches de Ville d’Avray
France/Austria, 1962. Fidès, Les Films Trocadero, Orsay Films, Terra Film Produktion. Screenplay by Serge Bourguignon, Antoine Tudal, dialogue by Serge Bourguignon, Bernard Eschasseriaux, based on the novel by Bernard Eschasseriaux. Cinematography by Henri Decae. Produced by Romain Pines. Music by Maurice Jarre. Production Design by Bernard Evein. Costume Design by Marie-Claude Fouquet, Jacques Heim. Film Editing by Leonide Azar. Academy Awards 1962. Academy Awards 1963. Golden Globe Awards 1962. National Board Of Review Awards 1962.
A little girl is abandoned at a convent by her thoughtless father, the same night making friends with a shell-shocked Vietnam war veteran (Hardy Krüger) who has partial amnesia after having killed a girl in battle. They become friends, spending their Sundays together while his girlfriend is on call at the hospital where she works as a nurse, the child’s heartbroken loneliness connecting deeply with the innocence brought on by Kruger’s confused state. It isn’t long before their relationship becomes obvious to more than just themselves, however, and suspicion and fear play their part in moving towards a difficult conclusion. Serge Bourguignon’s lovely romance is notable for being light on the judgment and emphasizing the kindness at the centre of the gloom, keeping tragedy in its place but subtly emphasizing social hypocrisy: adults are keen to protect this child from what they view as a predator after doing nothing about her being abandoned by all who were responsible for her in the first place. Kruger is a veteran who is also left to his fate, receiving less than adequate care for having served his country before being judged so harshly by his peers, and yet Bourguignon’s focus on the story’s tender humanity means that the hot-button political issues are never overstated or didactic. Rather it is Henri Decae’s gorgeous charcoal-like cinematography that spreads a feeling of beautiful melancholy and makes for intelligent, emotional viewing, with excellent acting and superb writing to bolster it up.